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Dog Fence Fighting: Why Dogs Do It & How to Stop Barrier Aggression & Frustration | Pupford

November 29th, 2023

Filed under Training

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One of the benefits of having a fenced yard is to be able to let your dog out to do their business, play, and get some fresh air, off-leash. But it can be really frustrating if your dog growls, barks, snarls, or jumps at the dog on the other side of the fence. This type of barrier aggression and frustration can be very challenging!

Fence fighting can happen even between dogs that generally get along well with other dogs, which is why it’s so concerning for dog parents and challenging to understand.

Unfortunately, dog fence fighting can be common – but once you have an understanding of the behavior and how to stop it, you can take steps to help your dog get along with all its doggy neighbors.

Is this your dog? Then keep on reading.


dog fighting dog at the fence

Not to be confused with dog fencing (which, we’d love to see), dog fence fighting is a nickname for dogs showing aggression towards each other through a barrier – most commonly, a fence.

Dogs involved in a fence fight will often jump at the fence or even attempt to climb over it. They’ll also bark loudly, growl, snarl, and show other signs of agitation and aggression.

Sometimes people mistake fence fighting for playing, but there are important distinctions. While it might be normal for your dog to bark or whine to get their neighbor’s attention, fence fighting includes much more stressed and even aggressive body language.

It’s important to get to know your dog and your neighboring dogs, so you can decipher a bark from a growl and being excited from being territorial.

That way, you can spot fence fighting right away and take action.

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for a 100% free online dog training course, 30 Day Perfect Pup with Zak George, to learn more general impulse control techniques and training tips. Sign up for free here! 🐶


Getting to the root of why dogs fence fight is important for knowing what steps to take to stop it.

The biggest thing to understand is that oftentimes, fence fighting has nothing to do with your dog and the neighbor’s dog not liking each other. Rather, it’s usually a territory thing. This explains why most dogs who fence fight can still get along with other dogs just fine in other settings.

Related Reading: How to Stop a Dog From Barking at Night

Some common causes and triggers of fence fighting are:

  • Movement – Many dogs, especially herding breeds, are triggered by movement. But when they are not able to get to the moving subject (in this case the other dog) to chase or herd them, it can cause frustration.
  • Sound – Sounds are another trigger for fence fighting because dogs often want to investigate the source of an enticing sound. So if your dog hears the dog next door barking, or one of their toys squeaking, they could get frustrated over not being able to get to the source and initiate a fence fight.
  • Territorial claim – Some dogs feel anxious that the dog next door is trying to encroach on their territory and want to stake claim over it.
  • Barrier frustration – Whether trying to get to each other or another common stimulus (like another dog walking past both houses), dogs can get frustrated being restrained, but redirect that frustration at each other.

What it really comes down to is that your dog wants to get past their barrier – the fence – but can’t.

As we mentioned previously, most of the time dogs who engage in fence fighting will otherwise get along with the other dog, but there’s always a risk of that aggression carrying over in the event of the barrier being broken. For the dogs’ safety, and humans’ peace of mind, it’s best to put a stop to the behavior ASAP.

Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to help your dog stop fence fighting.

Related Reading: The Canine Ladder of Aggression


training dog to stop dog fence fighting

Like all instinctual behaviors, it will take time and practice (and a lot of patience!) to get your dog to not engage in fence fighting.

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for a 100% free online dog training course, 30 Day Perfect Pup with Zak George, to learn more general impulse control techniques and training tips. Sign up for free here! 🐶

Here are some steps to take and helpful tips for stopping dog fence fighting and barking:

  1. Brush up on the basics – Some basic training skills can really come in handy for keeping your dog safe in any situation. Making sure your dog masters threshold training, recall, stay, and leave it in high-distraction environments will make it a lot easier to maintain control of the situation if a fence fight breaks out. PS- Sign up for the free online training class 30 Day Perfect Pup here!
  2. Practice with a leash – Even if your dog has been comfortably roaming your yard for years, it may be beneficial to take a step back. With your dog on a short lead, take them outside a few feet. Reward when your dog checks in with you rather than getting distracted by the neighboring dog. Lead them a few more feet and repeat, repeating this many times on a consistent basis. Eventually, you can move on to a long lead, and once that’s mastered remove the lead.
  3. Go for a walk together – It may seem counterintuitive to bring dogs that fence fight together, but they often get along well without a barrier. Having them go for a walk together could help them bond on neutral ground and desensitize themselves to each other. Just be sure to keep a close eye on body language and not force it if the dogs do not seem to be comfortable with each other.
  4. Build a better barrier to keep dogs away from the fence – Fence fights most often occur through fences that dogs can see each other through, like a chain link. You can consider constructing a solid fence in front of the shared fence or planting thick hedges along the fence to block the dogs’ vision. Two caveats here: it can be costly to make these types of permanent changes to your yard, and you have to make sure you are not changing anything on someone else’s property without their permission.
  5. Communicate with your neighbor – Chances are, your neighbor wants this situation resolved as much as you do. Stay in communication about your progress with your individual dogs and brainstorm together creative ways to get your dogs to interact calmly. If the situation is severe, you can also communicate when each of your dogs will be outside to avoid them interacting.

Related Reading: How to Break Up a Dog Fight


a german shepherd dog barking through a fence at a neighbor dog | Pupford

Dog fence fighting and aggression can be a constant battle in some households! Keep in mind that unlimited access to the fence can be a quick formula for unwanted fence behaviors to continue.

Here are some quick reminders of things you can do to reduce your dog's barking, aggression, and frustration through the fence:

  • Brush up on basic behaviors
  • Practice with a leash to better control the environment
  • Go for a walk together with the other dogs
  • Build a better barrier
  • Communicate with your neighbor

Remember, changing any instinctual behavior can be a long process and takes a lot of patience. It’s completely okay – and even encouraged – to seek help from experts who can help you work on basic skills, build confidence, and strengthen communication between you and your dog.

The Pupford Academy is filled with expert-led on-demand courses that can help fence fighting, like Dog Body Language, Recall, Leave It, Stay with Distraction, and more!

How have you best dealt with fence fighting? Tell us in the comments!

🐶 Don't miss out! Sign up for a 100% free online dog training course, 30 Day Perfect Pup with Zak George, to learn more general impulse control techniques and training tips. Sign up for free here! 🐶


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